I believe the reason is because we feel for the betrayed spouse. Many of my coaching clients are betrayed spouses who are devastated but still want to save their marriage. If you have heard me speak, you know that my first wife had an online affair. I know that pain and devastation personally.
Dr. Shirley Glass did extensive research on infidelity. She describes the following vulnerabilities to having an affair.
You are more likely to be unfaithful if:
- Your friends and professional colleagues are unfaithful
- You work in entertainment or sports
- Your work or social environments condone affairs
- You believe that infidelity is common
- Your parents had an affair
- You are successful at work with a greater income
- You live in or near large metropolitan centers
- You travel for work
- You had an affair before
- You hold a high-status or powerful position
- You over indulge in alcohol and/or drugs
- You were the victim of sexual abuse
- You had premarital sex with multiple partners
Please note that Dr. Glass was quick to point out that none of these was an absolute predictor of an affair. She notes exceptions to each one. They are simply areas of vulnerability.
Besides protecting your own marriage (#5), this list gives great guidelines for parenting teenagers. Notice the link to premarital sex (#13). This is one more reason to give our teens to save sex for marriage.
We also need to teach our teens to choose good friends (#1, #3), avoid alcohol and drugs (#11), and choose a supportive work environment (#2, #3). We also need to make sure we continually battle the teens perception that “everyone is doing it [sex].” (#4)
This list can also guide our teens in the selection of who they should date or eventually marry. No one who is getting married wants or expects their marriage to deal with an affair. The real work of affair prevention may start long before we even know who we will marry.
Glass, S. P. (2003). Not “Just Friends”. New York: The Free Press.